Running Your First 5k

By Jason Wong, D.O.,
Board certified in Orthopedic Surgery
Southern Ocean Medical Center

The Heart and Sole Cup kicks off this Sunday, June 7 at Ocean Medical Center. 

If this is your first 5k, these tips from Jason Wong, D.O., of Southern Ocean Medical Center, will keep you motivated and help get you across the finish line with time and energy to spare.

A 5K race — that’s 3.1 miles — may sound daunting. But it can be a realistic fitness goal, even if you’ve never run a step. With the right preparation, you can conquer this course in five to 10 weeks of training.

Stock Up with the Right Gear

Before you start training for any sport, you need the right equipment. Luckily, running is a relatively inexpensive sport. For safe and comfortable training, be sure to have the following:

  • Running shoes that fit well. Go to a specialty running store for help picking the best pair for your feet.
  • Absorbent socks. Unlike cotton socks, these keep your feet dry and reduce friction, protecting you from blisters.
  • A safe running route. “A route that’s clear, smooth, even, and relatively soft will keep you striding injury-free,” says Dr. Wong. “A rubber track or dirt path is best.”

Safe, Smart Training

Look for a training program from a reliable source online. A good program starts slowly and builds over time. Less experienced runners might start with a routine that alternates shorter spurts of jogging with walking. As you become more comfortable with the routine, you can gradually increase your running segments until you’re jogging the whole time.

“Do not increase your time or mileage by more than 10 percent per week to reduce your risk for injury,” says Dr. Wong. “And do 20 to 30 minutes of other aerobic activities on the days you’re not running. This will help you build endurance.”

Be sure to leave at least one or two rest days per week. Your body needs time to recover.

Race-Day Rules

Before the big day arrives, run or drive along the course so that you’re familiar with its twists and turns.

Keep these other tips in mind to have your best race-day experience:

  • Eat a light carbohydrate snack an hour and a half before your run. Drink plenty of water before and during the race.
  • Don’t go faster than your training pace. At your first race, your main goal is to cross the finish line.

Heart and Sole 2015 kicks off Sunday, June 7 at Ocean Medical Center.
Sign up here!

Stride toward better health with Meridian's annual Heart and Sole trio of 5k races at Ocean Medical Center, Bayshore Community Hospital and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. For more information and to register, visit!